What do star athletes, top CEOs and Zappos employees have in common?
They all have a coach.
A coach is your advocate. You may call them life coaches, mentors or executive coaches, but their job is to challenge you to grow, achieve your goals and finish well.
The corporate world gets it. Businesses understand that an investment in the growth, health and happiness of their executives and employees can have a significant impact on their bottom line.
To understand where pastors stand on the matter of coaching, I sent an email questionnaire to 20 senior pastors of various church sizes and denominations. Six of them responded.
Do you currently work with an executive coach? Only one said “Yes.”
Have you worked with a coach before? Three said “Yes.”
If your church isn’t investing in a mentor for you, would you personally hire someone to coach you? Two said “Yes.” Four said “No.”
Does your church plan to hire an executive coach soon? All said “No.”
Do you need a professional mentor right now? Only one said “Yes.”
Is there someone in your life with whom you can have an honest conversation about the pains, pressures and disappointments of life and ministry?
All said “Yes.”
I also talked to Dr. Nathan Baxter, a professional life/executive coach. He founded Lead Self Lead Others to help pastors “live up to their true potential as leaders of their homes and leaders within their congregations.” Having served the church as a senior pastor and an executive pastor,
Nathan knows very well the struggles of many church leaders. He says the loneliest time he has ever experienced in his ministry career was when he was a senior pastor. “I felt like no one really understood what I was going through,” he shares. “If anyone ever really knew what I was thinking and working through, I felt like it would invalidate my message. The men in my church did their best to reach out to me, but it was still uncomfortable to be completely honest with them as I felt like it would make me less of a leader in their eyes.”
Nathan says many pastors tell him, “That’s exactly how I feel.”
Sadly, life coaching is still new in the church world. Nathan works with 50 pastors — and none of them has been coached before. One reason, says
Nathan, is unlike in the corporate world where there’s enormous pressure on CEOs to generate revenues —causing them to look for anything that’s going to give them an edge — pastors are into the spiritual profits, which are more subjective and difficult to measure.
So, what might compel a pastor to hire a coach?
Nathan says those who come to see him fall into either one of these buckets: (1) They have a high level of pain in their life, or (2) They have the leadership edge and want to stay sharp.
The financial investment, notes Nathan, is reasonable — and the ROI can’t be more astonishing.
“I’ve seen men start going back to having healthy homes. I’ve seen them resign churches that they should have left five years ago. I’ve seen them terminate staff that they should have fired three years ago. I’ve seen reconciliation in marriages. I’ve seen husbands call their wives from my home office, make amends with her and fly her out here. I’ve seen leaders find peace, purpose and a sense of authenticity.”